Monday, December 29, 2008

And closer still...

People keep asking me if we're moved into the house yet, and my sighs are getting more dramatic. We are SO CLOSE!! So instead of publishing our punch-out list, since every time I list it, it seems to get longer, I will do that concrete counter-top post I promised you.

This is not really a how-to post, more like a how-we-did-it post. I think I first heard of someone having a concrete counter top about four years ago, and they seem to be getting more and more popular. If I understand correctly the most common way of doing them is to pour concrete into a mold, and then install the countertop as a slab after it's hardened. This gives you a nice flat finish, plus you can get a nice decorative edge from whatever mold you use. You can also set up a concrete form, and pour them in place, removing the form after the concrete has set.

Or you could do what we did...and of the four or five countertops I've seen, none of them are done this way.There is some wire mesh embedded in the concrete to strengthen and stabilze everything. Notice that the concrete is green. We mixed some pigment into it so that it didn't look as much like a sidewalk. The blue tape around the edge is masking off a wooden edge. Essentially our concrete form is the finished edge of our countertop, which is a piece of wood that matches the cabinet trim.

After the "forms" are full of concrete everything is troweled smooth, which is actually a rather long process, smoothing and resmoothing as the concrete sets up. The hole in the middle of the countertop is were our sink is going to be, that wood is temporary and will be taken out before the sink is set into the counter.

The little blue squares are where some tiles have been set into the surface, the tape is supposed to protect them from getting covered in concrete.

And it more or less successfully did so. The tiles are from some artist friends, who's company, Earthen Craft Pottery, can be found here. Click on over and give them some love.

Now that everything has been poured and has had a chance to harden, Eli and Trevor have scrubbed it clean and ground the surface a little to smooth it out a bit more. Then they are going to seal everything so that oil and such can't soak in and stain the surface. Voila! Hey-presto, a countertop.

Monday, December 8, 2008

So close....

Things are cruising right along, in spite of some last minute challenges. We have paint, we have tile, we have carpet, we have light fixtures...Eli is on crutches. Actually Eli isn't on crutches anymore, that's how late I am in updating, but he was, for a month following knee surgery. Here is the family inspecting Isis's bedroom.

And this is the main floor, through the kitchen with the stairs in the background. Again, the picture is no longer accurate. Now we have a stair rail, the bamboo floor is laid, the baseboard trim is installed, and the kitchen is...more...complete. Our kitchen is being built by a friend who has a day job, so he comes in at night and does one or two things before heading home. It's sort of like having a kitchen that is built by elves. Everytime I visit the site I have to play "what's new in the kitchen."Here's another kitchen view. You can see our lovely (cost effective) terra cotta tiles, and the beginnings of the cabinets and shelves. This is basically what you see when you walk in the front door.

Next week: pouring the concrete countertops....and then, we move in!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

My blue heaven...

We are porch people. The "new" house, as we are calling it, because at some point we realized that calling it the "old" house was just silly, has three porches. That's one porch for each bedroom, and one more than we have bathrooms. Okay, admittedly the third porch isn't really a porch, it's the flat roof outside our bedroom window, but we put in a sliding glass door so that we can use it like a porch.

When we were looking at siding colors I was distressed that all the "colors" available were actually beige. They had grey beige and green beige and brown beige, but the available colors were not really colors at all. So I'm made up for our boring grey siding by picking rather outrageous colors for the porch railings and doors. Hence the blue porch. I love my blue porch. The porch ceiling is blue as well, so now I'm having fantasies of painting gold stars on it.'s amazing how housey something looks after you get a lick of paint on it. This is just the primer...there will be color on my walls! At least some of them. Actually there's color on my ceiling already (yes, it does appear to be beige, but it's not...because I would never paint something's, uhm...taupe. Yeah). I think our stairway turned out quite nicely, there is a funny blue triangle leaning against our bench (I also love our bench) which I could have moved before taking the picture...except that I didn't.
I have to slip in pictures of the baby of course. Walking and everything. I think he was walking around for approximately 3.4 seconds before he found something inappropriate to stick in his mouth, but one of the great things about getting this buttoned up is that we will have a house that is actually baby proofable to move into. No peeling paint, no splintery sills. Yippee.
Eli wanted to make sure that I talked about the basement stairway. This was the big bugaboo that slowed things down so dramatically. I could go into great detail about why we couldn't build it the way that we wanted to (flush against the wall) but suffice to say that we just couldn't, so it had to wind. Michigan stair code is quite specific about winders, and fitting it in and meeting the code was quite the pain in the butt, but now we have the grandest basement stairway you could imagine.
And here's a shot of the exterior. It looks a little "boxy" but there was no room in the budget for any exterior frills. Basically we chose quality of life (porches!) over style.

The home stretch! Here we come!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Just call me a slacker...

I could say something about how I'm really behind on updating the blog, except that everyone reading this has probably figured that out by now, so instead I'll just push right on to the part where I actually tell you all what's been going on!

Going through the photos that have just been uploaded to our flickr site, I realize that I don't have a good "outside" shot. So you'll just have to imagine for yourselves, the lovely siding (grey, it's the new beige) and the fancy shmancy porch railing. (if you click through to flickr you can check out a gratuitous amount of new baby pictures).

But the really exciting stuff has been going on inside:

Look! Insulation.No, not that kind of insulation, that was the "bad" kind. The kind you could still feel in your armpits and behind your ears after taking three showers.

I'm talking about the "good" kind of insulation.
And look! Drywall!

Freaky man. I have a bathtub, in a bathroom...with...walls. Whoa.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Long time no Blog...

We have had a busy winter here at ye olde house o' straw, but that doesn't mean that the house isn't getting worked on, oh fact it looks like a house again.

Check it out, my new backdoor. A door with a weather seal so tight that you have to put a little grunt into it while pushing it open. And our siding. We picked the siding color long ago, when the house was still a house, before its brief stint as a hole in the ground. It seems like for weeks we were debating about different colors of beige...because that's the color that siding comes in. Sure you can get blue tinted beige, or green tinted beige...or as we picked grey-brown tinted beige...but really. You're fooling yourself if you think it's anything but beige.

This is an old picture...months old in fact. I have been meaning to update for at least that long. The house is almost entirely sided now. We ran out, so there is a tiny corner of the northside, and one gable end left to be covered in lovely grey-brown beige...okay I'll stop with the b-word, sorry.
A rather drunken picture of our porch. I gave the camera to Isis when we visited the jobsite last week, since it's a little hard for me to manage both the baby and the camera. Isis has artistic vision, and as a result it's often hard to tell which way is up in her pictures. Maybe it's the fact that she's closer to the ground, but everything in her shots has a monumental quality to it.
We have plumbing! We have an electrical service box. This weeks project was finishing the framing on the stairs, and as soon as that is done we will have the "mechanical" guys in to run the ducts...then wiring, finish plumbing, insulation, drywall, trim, paint...move in. Gosh it all fits in one sentence. How cool is that?